Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and other anxiety disorders are treated with medication and psychotherapy. They can work alone or in combination. However, finding the appropriate treatment is not that easy. It may take some trial-and-error and different methods to finally figure out which treatment works best for you. Aside from that, you have to be comfortable with the treatment that your physician recommends. You may also want to consider your health insurance coverage.
The two major types of medications used to treat anxiety disorders are anxiolytics and antidepressants. Remember that any of these can’t cure your condition. They can only relieve anxiety disorder symptoms.
Anxiolytics. Also known as anti-anxiety medications, anxiolytics come in different forms. They may also cause drowsiness, unsteadiness, balance problems and reduced muscle coordination. Benxodiazepines are prescription sedatives that can ease anxiety within 30 to 90 minutes. That’s pretty fast but there’s a downside. They can be habit-forming if taken for weeks. The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines are chlordiazepoxide (Librium), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin). Buspirone is another type of anti-anxiety medication that is often prescribed for GAD. Although these may take a number of weeks to improve symptoms, there is no risk of dependence. But they also come with side effects such as nausea, headaches and insomnia.
Antidepressants. Antidepressants influence the activity of serotonin, a certain neurotransmitter that is believed to play a major role in anxiety disorders. Examples of these medications that are used in treating GAD include paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro) and imipramine (Tofranil).
Also called counseling or talk therapy, psychotherapy involves a mental health professional who improves your psychological landscape through a series of talking and listening. The most effective psychotherapy for anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps improve symptoms of GAD. Through this method, you are expected to identify negative beliefs and unhealthy thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It emphasizes learning to develop control over your emotions and thoughts.
Always bear in mind that treatment for any anxiety disorder or any mental illness in general is tailored to each person. No specific treatment works for everyone. You need the help and assistance of your physician to determine which is likely to work best for you.
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